SmokeLong Quarterly

Share This f l Translate this page

The Mothers of Brilliant Sons

Story by Jan Stinchcomb (Read author interview) July 23, 2021

Art by Umanoide

We gaze in awe at the Pacific Ocean, charged with radioactivity. We see the monster, enormous and merciless, emerge. By the time we hear that magnificent roar, the true source of fear and trembling, it is already too late for Tokyo. The giant tail swings and tall buildings fall. It is too late for all of us.

Devastation on this scale is always the mother’s fault.

Godzilla’s mother knows what is coming when she lays that egg. As she runs her pretty claws over the humming shell, still pristine, she senses the growing danger of the contents. There are many avenues for a mother like her. She refuses fear, hero worship, and grief. Abandonment calls to her like a siren.

She is not dissuaded by Grendel’s mother, famous for her maternal rage. Not impressed when that mother storms into the great hall and grabs her son’s severed arm in the ultimate gesture of kinship. In fact, she is critical. Why is the legendary Grendel still living at home? Is this relationship incestuous, a perversion of attachment parenting? Godzilla’s mother does not care how hard Grendel’s mother has worked. She can imagine a monster childhood that is golden, beyond reproach, and, without a trace of sentimentality, she can conceive of its exact opposite.

Godzilla’s mother remembers that Grendel’s mother, unable to attain vengeance, does not exist for long without her son.

Isn’t it better to cut the apron strings and let your baby go, right away, to Monster Island? Better to let him become a single dad, making his own mistakes? The child, the monster, is one day going to encounter men and their weapons, for both are ubiquitous. Not to worry: a monster is essential, cherished like a bride.

The monster always has his day.

I see Godzilla’s mother, one leathery foot poised atop the pulsing egg, as she stares out across the waves. She has a choice. Every mother on the planet has a choice at this delicate stage. She can keep her baby close and love him or she can turn him loose and love him. I feel it happen. My own toes are tingling and curling, my own leg is stretching. It’s not a nudge or a tap, no, it’s a desperate wish that sets the beloved egg rolling, slowly at first, and then with punishing speed, into the all-knowing mother ocean.


This micro was a finalist in the 2021 SmokeLong Grand Micro Contest. 

About the Author

Jan Stinchcomb is the author of The Kelping (Unnerving), The Blood Trail (Red Bird Chapbooks) and Find the Girl (Main Street Rag). Her stories have recently appeared in Atticus Review, Ligeia Magazine and Fractured Lit. A Pushcart nominee, she is featured in Best Microfiction 2020 and The Best Small Fictions 2018 & 2021. She lives in Southern California with her family. Find her on Twitter @janstinchcomb

About the Artist

Find more from Umanoide at Unsplash.

This story appeared in Issue Seventy-Two of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Seventy-Two

Support SmokeLong Quarterly

Your donation helps writers and artists get paid for their work. If you’re enjoying what you read here, please consider donating to SmokeLong Quarterly today.

SmokeLong Fitness -- The SmokeLong Community Workshop

Book Now!

Included in the price of SmokeLong Fitness:

One live Zoom webinar each month with killer workshop leaders (recorded for participants unable to attend).

One open-mic party each month (or other live Zoom events)

Discounts on intensive workshops

Discounts on senior editor feedback

Surprises (good ones)